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Manufacturing & Stuff Every Kansan Should Know! - December 30, 2016

(Cobalt Boat FLickr Photo by Putneypics, YETI Flickr Photo by Zachary Collier)

Q: The winter chill may have you thinking about warmer weather. When it comes to summertime fun, you should know that Kansas manufactures two products that go hand-in-hand with sizzling summer temperatures: boats and coolers. Which Kansas community makes high-end Cobalt boats, and which Kansas community makes high-end YETI coolers?


 
A: Neodesha and Hesston
 
The southeast Kansas town of Neodesha, in Wilson County, makes the world-famous Cobalt boats. The high-end luxury watercraft company was started here, and these fancy boats have been built by summer-loving folks in Neodesha since 1968. Cobalt has been the market leader in the runabout segment of the boating industry for the past half century. 
 
Cobalt boats, comprised of roughly 2,500 parts, are largely hand-made with the finest materials available. Even the paint on the boats isn't really paint. It’s some sort of proprietary gel coating that we can't fully explain (even after watching the company's video). Perhaps it's enough to say that Cobalt has consistently received the Highest Customer Satisfaction award from J.D. Power and Associates every single year possible.  
 
The south-central Kansas town of Hesston, in Harvey County, is already famous for manufacturing riding lawnmowers and agricultural equipment. But increasingly, the town has become well-known for making another summertime pastime: coolers! And not just any coolers. Folks in Hesston make the high-end YETI coolers, cranking out about 2,000 of them each week. YETI is based in Austin, Texas, but if you buy a YETI in Kansas, chances are it was made by the good people of Hesston.
 
Summer is still several months away, but we can still dream of the warmer weather to come, with images of boats and coolers dancing in our heads. Or something like that. Thanks, Neodesha and Hesston, for keeping Kansas classy and cool when the summertime blues come to town.  
 
Fun Factoid: The name Neodesha is derived from an Osage Indian word, which means "the water is smoky with mud."

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